'Harry Potter' ban: Tennessee Catholic school removes book series over fear of children 'conjuring evil spirits'

A Catholic school in Tennessee has banned the "Harry Potter" book series over fears that students reading its spells may "risk conjuring evil spirits," according to the Tennessean

St. Edward Catholic School in Nashville, Tenn., explained its reasons for the ban in an email sent to faculty last Wednesday. In the message, Rev. Dan Reehil, a pastor at the school, told teachers there were "several reasons" for the decision.

"The curses and spells used in the books are actual curses and spells; which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits into the presence of the person reading the text," the email states. "I have consulted several exorcists, both in the United States and in Rome, and they have recommended removing the books from circulation."

Rev. Reehil goes on to say that the seven-book series — which also includes several supplemental books and the screenplay for the Broadway play "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" — teach children a "Machiavellian" approach to obtaining things they desire.

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"The books also use nefarious means to attain the goals of the characters, including the 'good' characters," Rev. Reehil wrote. "From a moral perspective, this is a serious problem, especially in the formation of young Catholic children."

The school reportedly decided on the ban after receiving a complaint from a parent. Rebecca Hammel, the superintendent of schools for the Catholic Diocese of Nashville, told the Tennessean that, in general, the Catholic Church sees parents as a child's primary teachers.

"Should parents deem that this or any other media to be appropriate we would hope that they would just guide their sons and daughters to understand the content through the lens of our faith," Hammel said.

The original seven "Harry Potter" books, written by author J.K. Rowling and published between 1997 and 2007, are considered to be the best-selling series in history, with more 500 million copies sold as of 2018. By comparison, the bible — which is considered the single best-selling book of all time — has sold an estimated 6 billion copies. 

The "Harry Potter" books have faced bans since their inception. In fact, in the American Library Association's "most challenged" books list from 1999 to 2003, the series topped the list in both 2001 and 2002.

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